During the “Together We Thrive” memorial service, all of which was carried on the cable news channels and some of which was carried on the big four broadcast networks, President Obama delivered his own news about Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who he and Mrs. Obama visited in the hospital earlier today:
“A few minutes after we left her room and some of her colleagues from Congress were in the room, Gabby opened her eyes for the first time. Gabby opened her eyes,” repeated the President to a cheering crowd, “so I can tell you she knows we are here.”
President Obama’s remarks, which ran about 35 minutes with applause, were the culmination of the event at the University of Arizona. Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer spoke, as did Arizona’s former Governor, now DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, who read from the book of Isaiah. Two Supreme Court justices, Justice Anthony Kennedy and retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor sat in the front row along with Daniel Hernandez, hailed a hero for tending to Rep. Giffords in the moments after she was shot, and Rep. Giffords’ husband, the astronaut Mark Kelly. Arizona’s two U.S. Senators, John McCain and Jon Kyl, sat just behind them in the second row of dignitaries.
About the political rhetoric, Obama said: “At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized; at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do, it’s important to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.”
FOX broadcast coverage with Shepard Smith began at 8:30pmET, NBC’s Brian Williams, live in Tucson, began at 8:38. ABC’s coverage with Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos began at 8:40 and CBS with Katie Couric in Washington, began coverage at 8:41. The networks returned to regular programming when the president concluded around 9:20pmET.